It’s hard not to fall for the lived-in, Middle East-meets-tropical-Africa charms of Zanzibar. Without romanticizing the poverty that many of the island’s inhabitants suffer, or overlooking the neglect that has caused UNESCO to threaten to remove the island’s historic old town from its list of World Heritage Sites, the island positively oozes a kind of otherworldly charm. It’s made all the more palpable by decades of decay and the sheer weight of the history the island carries; you smell it in the labyrinth-like alleyways of the old town after the rains, you see it in the peeling paints and crumbling facades of the buildings, and perhaps most arrestingly in the unusual ethnic diversity of this small island – from Arabs to Africans and all shades in between. You can also just feel it. It’s history you don’t have to read about or intellectualize – it’s just there, each and every day, staring straight at you as you stare back in awe.
A Christmas unlike any other: cinnamon daiquiris in lieu of glögg, a Zanzibari dinner-a-deux instead of a turkey feast with the family, snow-white sand and a gleaming turquoise ocean instead of the cozy, candle-lit darkness of December up North. It’s a relaxed, unselfconscious slice of paradise, enveloped in a soothing breeze that makes missing all that familiar festiveness back home somehow alright.
As Masaai-for-hire wander the beaches one last time before the sun sets, and we settle in for our happy hour daiquiris, this balmy breeze makes me think: if heaven had a temperature, this would surely be it.
We’re there with you in spirit, miss you today more than ever and send lots of warm vibes and love your way. Have a merry one.
Our last day with the kids was hilarious, a little sad and thoroughly exhausting. A much-needed two week break beckons as we mark the mid-way point of our trip (haven’t we been here for much longer than that?), and we both crave some space, a bit of pampering, a couple of cocktails (I miss ice!) and the sea’s soothing breeze. If I can’t have a wintery Christmas, a sparkly ocean will do (cheeky).
So, goodbye Moshi and its beautiful ‘fire trees’, and hello Zanzibar’s pristine shoreline…
Have a peaceful and stress-free run-up to Christmas, everyone.
Lots of love from our little piece of Africa,
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Your shadowy B from K&B is back, reporting directly from last week’s Space Games at Amani Centre. Nothing like some over-excited, space-mad kids to get you, dear readers, into the Christmas spirit… Day 1 – From Moshi to the Moon in 5 days Monday, 10th December 2012, marked the beginning of the much-anticipated Space Games …
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Our Amani friends are fantastic – sometimes shy, a little reserved in the way that teenagers often are, interesting bordering on mysterious, and most of all fun – but today we had the distinct privilege of hanging out with some little ones at a friend’s project called Kilikids, a twenty minute drive outside Moshi. It’s …
Part of the reason for coming to Africa and leaving all the secure and seductive trappings of life back home – even if only temporarily – was to buy some time from incessant busyness and tiring obligations, take a breather, and approach life with a new level of calm and acceptance.
As anything in life, it’s turned our rather harder than the deceptive simplicity of ‘taking it easy’ implies. Although our mornings are lazy, our days just busy enough to stay challenged and engaged but not to get stressed, time still flies and the mind wanders. As we pine for a holiday or plan our next restaurant outing, something within scrambles for a plan to anchor time without really, truly appreciating the here and the now. Even in strange, alien Moshi the hypnotic lull of routines, peppered with the incessant need to plan the future, can prove irresistible.
Time may be on our side, but it isn’t always so easy to realize, to really understand that the experience is right here and right now. These wonderful, inspiring kids that we have the privilege to hang out with will soon be just another distant memory; this whole experience will fade into the past, occasionally revisited with the help of pictures and funny anecdotes… Not doing our best to appreciate it right now would be a huge disservice to us and unfair to everyone around. But it’s so much easier said than done.
The ‘pole pole’ (slowly, slowly) lifestyle has made us a little stir crazy. Maybe the shine and excitement of a new place has just worn out. Maybe there’s a bit of culture shock mixed in there somewhere, or perhaps the near-incessant heat has just worn our bodies and minds down. Somehow we’re just in a bit of a rut; not unhappy by any means, just not entirely in the flow of things either. Moshi has gotten too small, the heat too repetitive, the routines a little too set once again.
It didn’t help that our plans for weekend trips fell through because of distances and overpriced hotels. We’ve had to postpone a few cool trips to next year, including one to the lusher-than-lush Usambara mountains, and by default rather than choice ended up spending a few too many weekends in small-town Tanzania. Work is still good – the kids don’t exactly have an ‘off day’, they’re always great and full of energy – but we’ve had a lot of weekend shifts in the past months and I guess our batteries are just near-depleted. Cultural discovery, adjusting, fitting in… it’s exhilarating, it’s exciting, but it’s also exhausting.
B’s wallet also went missing under strange circumstances a few days ago. Suffice it to say this didn’t exactly lift our spirits. It either dropped from his pockets when we were talking home from the taxi, or – more unbelievably and quite likely – was skillfully pick-pocketed by two young girls pretending to be fundraising for a local church right in front of our house gate. We’ll never know what exactly happened but I can’t seem to shake the feeling that there was something ‘off’ about those girls hanging out in front of our gate at sunset, only talking to us, not the locals and asking for donations in a hasty-cum-guilty sort of way. But then again, maybe I’m just imagining things. Maybe it’s the heat playing tricks on my brain.
But what do we really have to complain about? It’s sunny, it’s beautiful, it’s exciting in a subtle kind of way every single day. And our holidays are fast approaching: Zanzibar for Christmas and a second safari after New Years with my dad who’ll be visiting us. Lots to look forward to and lots to be happy about. Every reason to get over this rut, pronto.
Sending some of our over-abundance of pole-pole vibes your way. We miss you (you know who you are).